Posts Tagged ‘work capability assessment’

Opposition Day Debate and disabled people

29 October 2014
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Parliament

There was an Opposition Debate yesterday in the House of Commons – called by Labour on a motion to condemn the recent statement by Lord Freud about disabled people possibly working for less than the minimum wage. Lord Freud has since apologised and the motion was lost.

However for those of us who have been watching the debates on Welfare Reform since 2007 – it was chance to see how far in some ways we have come and how far in others  we haven’t moved forward at all.

For the first few years of welfare reform no one had a clue what it would be like in reality. All we had was Freud and James Purnell talking pure theory.

That has certainly changed. All MP’s now have a deluge of disabled constituents coming in to their surgeries, and they have found out what it is about. So the debate is finally informed amongst MPs. Yet still they do nothing.

Fundamentally the big problem with Employment Support Allowance remains. Both Tory and Labour parties have not (more…)

Employment Support allowance ‘easier to claim’ – joke

10 September 2014

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition welcome the discussion on 5th September 2014 comparing the ease of access to ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) with access to the old IB (Incapacity Benefit).

ESA logo

However it is important to compare like with like. The new ESA is not equivalent to the old IB and they should not be compared directly. We would suggest that the new ESA Support Group alone should be considered as equivalent to the award of long term IB. If you compare these figures you will find that it is much harder to get in to the Support Group than it was to claim IB.

The ESA WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) is a temporary, time limited benefit, suitable for people with short term injuries or illnesses, who will get better and return to work within a year. It only lasts twelve months. It is the equivalent of the old short term IB.

We would also note other distortions to the figures including the time taken to process the initial application. If there is a short time to process, then all the short term injuries need to be counted, whereas with a longer processing period, these short term disabilities are gone before they are included.

We have pressed for a cumulative impact assessment of these changes and slowly we are seeing acknowledgement that this must be done . We cannot wait much longer.

We have always said that changes should not be brought in until the full effects are understood: they wouldn’t do this in any new transport system or construction plan so why are they allowed to experiment in this way on disabled people? .

There are many other issues involved in the comparisons – this needs serious analysis from professional and independent statisticians such as those at Sheffield Hallam University. This would all be part of a thorough cumulative impact assessment and we urge the government to ensure this is completed as a matter of urgency.

Frances Kelly

Pat Onions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments – Work and Pensions Committee Report

23 July 2014
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This is what multi party Select Committees were invented for. As a safety measure for situations exactly like this – when the main political parties cause a disaster and then gang up and turn their faces to the wall and refuse to see the enormous harm their misguided policies are causing.
Work and Pensions Select Committee
 
This report has been written by MPs who actually understand what is happening to sick and disabled people on the ground.
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Work and Pensions Committee
Select Committee Press Notice

AN06 2014-15
22 July 2014

Under embargo until 00.01am on Wednesday 23 July 2014

Report: Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessmentsread report here

List of conclusions and recommendations here  

Employment and Support Allowance is not achieving its aims and needs fundamental
redesign, say MPs

The flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system are so grave that simply “rebranding” the assessment used to determine eligibility for ESA (the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)) by appointing a new contractor will not solve the problems, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a report published today.

The Committee calls on the Government to undertake a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process to ensure that the main purpose of the benefit – helping claimants with health conditions and disabilities to move into employment where this is possible for them – is achieved. This will take some time, but the redesign should be completed before the new multi-provider contract is tendered, which is expected to be in 2018.

In the meantime, the Committee recommends a number of changes which should be made now, to help ensure that claimants receive an improved service, and that the outcomes for claimants are more appropriate.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Committee Chair, said:

(more…)

The truth about Employment Support Allowance

25 June 2014

 

Congratulations to Dame Anne Begg who has finally spoken the truth about the Employment Support Allowance  “work related activity” group (WRAG).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions select committee,  said last Friday that large groups of people appear to have been “parked” on the benefit in the “work-related activity” group, which covers all those found neither to be fully fit for work nor so disabled that they cannot be expected to look for employment.

Disability activists across the country will be as delighted as Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch that politicians are finally admitting to the false premise on which Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was based.

ESA is a failed experiment conducted live on sick and disabled people.

Sick and disabled people who are assigned to the WRAG are found not fully fit for work. Almost none of them are finding work. Yet the government is sanctioning and stopping their benefits; telling them they are ‘expected’ to find work. This is cruel, it defies logic and is causing tremendous anxiety for claimants. They are being threatened and required to do things that they are not able to do because of their physical or mental condition.

ESA was designed using flawed premises and has failed. It needs to be completely rethought.

Meanwhile Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch call upon this government and the next to take responsibility for this disastrous mistake. We call upon them to introduce the following immediate reforms to prevent disabled people having to live this nightmare existence while the politicians responsible sort it out.

. Reduce the level of sanctions
 
· Take off the time limits
 
. Raise the income levels for means testing

· Stop the WCA re-testing for long term and progressive conditions.
 
·Take the Bedroom tax off disabled people

. Expand the Supported Permitted Work scheme

These changes will make the WRAG safer and reduce the costly appeals against WRAG allocation.

Making these simple changes will make the WRAG safer and give disabled people some space to feel safe away from anxiety, while everyone works together to look for the long term answers.

 

News articles below –

Work Programme ‘failing those most in need and should be broken up’

DWP denies risk of rising disability benefits breaching welfare spending cap

Submission from Independent Taskforce on Poverty and Disability

28 April 2014

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition welcome the Task Force Report (download document here). We fully endorse all the positive suggestions for enabling disabled people to get ready for and join the work force. It is to be celebrated that so many barriers to employment for disabled people can now be managed and overcome.

However the report is in danger of forgetting that in some cases Impairment does still Impair.  And that this has to be negotiated with employers who will face extra costs.   Supporting disabled people is only one half of the equation. Getting a job is a contract between two sides. Disabled people are one half of the contract and employers are the other half. The contract is negotiated through the mechanism of a competitive labour market which doesn’t favour impairment.   It isn’t sufficient to just be concerned with the disabled person. Government has to think about employers and examine how they relate to disabled people. (more…)

We still need discuss the Elephant in the room

10 April 2014

 

Fit for work – but not fit to get a job

These last few weeks we have all been inundated with articles re Employment Support Allowance, Work Capability Assessments. From Atos announcing they were walking away from their contract, to a Work and Pensions committee evidence session held Weds 9th April. Available to watch here .

No one thinks that changing the provider will solve the problem

Mirror article here

Huffington Post here

So what is the real problem?

ATOS were asked to test disabled people and find out if they were fit for work.

Sadly being able to do some work is not the same thing as being able to get a job.

 

The real world out there is a competitive labour market. Employers hire the candidate who convinces them that they will be the most productive and stand up to the most pressure. The candidate who is the fittest, gets the job. That’s the real world of getting a job.

 

With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins

 

But what should an employer do when they are asked to take on a disabled person whose impairments will bring extra costs to the employer? No-one even asks the question. It’s the elephant in the room that no-one talks about. They’ll talk about reasonable adjustments and enabling people to overcome the barriers to being productive, but can that work for everyone?

 

Until we start asking these questions, we won’t find the solution. Governments intervene in markets all the time to promote equality: but apparently not for disabled people.

 

So let’s move the focus away from disabled people.

Stop blaming them and putting all the pressure on them to be fit for work when we know they need to be fit to get a job.

Let’s move the spotlight on to employers and the labour market out there in the real world. And look for solutions there.

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ESA and WCA – Work and Pensions committee

2 April 2014

Details of this enquiry were released Feb 2014. You can read about it here

With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins

The committee has now published submissions and they can be found here

CarerWatch, together with the team behind Pat’s Petition, sent a joint submission which can be read in full here

Our personal experience of ESA has not been a happy one. Members of our team have been involved in the anxiety of the original migration from IB to ESA. And now only a year or so later we, or the people we care for, are being recalled one by one for re-assessment. This looks as if it is going to be a regular, repeated feature of our lives at very short intervals even though we and the people we care for are all faced with diagnoses with conditions that will not get better. What is the point of this? It is causing gratuitous, unnecessary stress and is a waste of money. It feels like bullying and it adds to a climate of fear.

 

Employment Support Allowance is a disaster

4 December 2013

Yesterday members of CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition met with Kate Green, Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People. From there they went to Lambeth Palace to meet with Archbishops advisers.

Proposed Reforms to ESA – Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch

For many chronically sick/ill and disabled people the barriers faced in the open job market are so significant that they do not have the opportunity to compete on equal terms. This is the elephant in the room.

elephant 1

The main Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Group – the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – is based on the false premise that chronically sick/ill and disabled people can compete on equal terms. It makes no allowance for the barriers in the job market. Many can compete on equal terms. But many others have a lot to offer but can’t compete on equal terms.

It is unfair to place sanctions and time limits on disabled people in the WRAG until this problem is addressed and rectified.

ESA/WRAG is currently a disaster and we suggest the following reforms –

1. Find out how to make the labour market inclusive. Disabled people have a lot to contribute. Face up to the question of disabled people and open competition in a flexible labour market. Explore quotas, kite marks, subsidies, public pressure and any other option you can find.

2. Meanwhile place far more chronically sick/ill and disabled people in a safe, long term ESA group. The WRAG is not a safe group because of sanctions, time limits and means tests. The criteria to be placed in this safe group should be that you have an impairment which means you can’t compete in the labour market on equal terms. WCA isn’t designed to determine this. It doesn’t make allowances for the barriers in the labour market.

So scrap Work Capability Assessment

Some disabilities might involve a little more investigation, but with most the diagnosis should be a passport to a safe group.

3. Fraud has nothing to do with disability. Stop making the association.

4. Spend all the money on dedicated person centred support either to get paid employment that supports you financially or to live a happy, productive life doing voluntary work, permitted work, other activities – and don’t dismiss the second option.

This statement has received support from –

Pat Onions                               Pat’s Petition

Frances Kelly                            CarerWatch

Rosemary O’Neill                      CarerWatch

Rick Burgess                             Wow Petition

Jane  Benz                                 Wow Petition

Professor Nicholas Watson      Institute of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow

Sir Tom Shakespeare                University of East Anglia

Dr Simon Duffy                         Director Centre for Welfare Reform.

Paul Swann                               Disability Wales / Anabledd Cymru

Mo Stewart                               Disability Researcher

Gail Ward                                 Disability Campaigner

Catherine Hale                         South East London ME Support Group

Jim Elder-Woodward OBE      Chair of the UK Committee of the Campaign for a Fair Society

Jackie Maceira                         Scottish Disability Equality Forum

Michele Findlay                       Disability Campaigner

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WOW petition recently reached their target of 100,00 but there is another week to go. Time to still gather more support.

If you have not already signed, please do so and then share the link as wide as possible.

For further details see WoW website here

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Employment Support Allowance – the elephant in the room

3 October 2013

HEALTH WARNING

This statement contains a message that no disability campaigner wants to hear – let alone campaign on. At first sight it appears negative and discouraging. However we believe that the best way to overcome a barrier is to name it and address it. And if it isn’t named, it leaves the government an open goal to take away safe, secure benefits.

MAKING EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT ALLOWANCE  FIT FOR PURPOSE

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With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition are concerned that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) uses PUSH economics to take away safe benefits as a means of forcing disabled people in to work. But many disabled people can’t compete in the open job market and ESA is pushing them up against a brick wall. They have nowhere to go. The failure of the Work Programme is the result.

This is because many sick and disabled people have residual impairment, even after all adaptations are made, and are not as competitive in the open labour market as anyone else. Jobs are acquired through open competition: it is like asking disabled athletes to compete in the mainstream Olympics.

This is a very hard thing for disability campaigners to admit. We want to encourage people and talk up their strengths, not their weaknesses.  To admit that some disabled people are less competitive in the open labour market sounds like defeat. But the Social Model is about overcoming barriers. So far the focus has been on individuals overcoming their own individual barriers. But the competitive job market presents a structural barrier that also needs to be named and then addressed.

Of course there are many disabled people who, with adjustments and adaptations, can overcome their individual barriers to work and are just as competitive as everyone else. Talk about being less competitive is the last thing they want to hear.   But for many others this just isn’t the case. They are less competitive. And the relentless can do approach taken by ESA pushes them up against a brick wall.  ESA denies the can’t do. These people do not want to be written off as being unable to work (Support Group) but they can’t compete in the open labour market (Work related Activity Group (WRAG)). So there is no ESA group for people who have difficulty competing and they have nowhere to go. And these people have lost the security of safe benefits.

Let’s face up to and overcome the structural barrier in the job market. Because someone is less competitive it doesn’t mean they can’t work and contribute and there are still lots of options that might help them. Quotas, subsidies, campaigns, lots of opportunities for permitted and voluntary work. The government could intervene in the job market to make it a level playing field. Perhaps this needs a name – Supported Work. And being pushed down to work for less money below your level of competence is not a level playing field.

Brick_Wall

Meanwhile stop the unfair PUSH economics that is pushing less competitive disabled people up against a brick wall. They need the return of a safe secure benefit while they negotiate this impossible situation.   ESA is not fit for purpose. It has two groups. The Support Group provides long term safe support for disabled people who are not expected to be able to work. All other disabled people are put in the WRAG and classed as being ‘on their way back to work’ and they are expected to compete in the open job market. Some can compete but there is no group for the many who can’t.

A new structure is needed that recognises the reality of disability and the job market and provides safe, secure support for all disabled people.

Work Capability Assessments – Back Bench Business

17 January 2013

There is to be a debate about the Work Capability Assessment in House of Commons today ( Jan 17th 2013 ).

You can watch it live here from approx 10.30am

ESA-form***

CarerWatch, along with many other campaigners, will be watching closely.

The government should admit that the Work Related Activity Group is not about finding work. The WRAG is simply about moving sick and disabled people from an unconditional benefit to a means tested benefit to save money.

Four fifths of sick and disabled people will be allocated to the WRAG on migration from IB. It’s becoming clear that the WRAG  is an out of work benefit like JSA.

It wasn’t protected from the inflation cap in the Autumn Statement.

You are expected to find work. It treats people as effectively fit and time limits them to a year before means testing.

The feature that terrifies most disabled people is the coercion in the work program with forced work placements and sanctions for non compliance.

It is unfair to force these decisions on disabled people if you haven’t walked in their shoes.

The cover story is that these people are on their way to work when in fact only 1.5% of sick and disabled people are finding work through the work program in the WRAG.

The WRAG is a confidence trick for moving to means testing disability support.

Can speakers in this debate be the first to be honest about this. The heart ache over the WCA tests is really located in what the future holds when you are allocated to the WRAG.

The WRAG is actually a Ticket to Nowhere

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What others are saying  –

Disabled people Against Cuts – Does any part of the Work capability assessment work

Ekklesia –  Latest Work Capability Assessment proposals will worsen plight of sick and disabled people

Diary of a Benefit Scrounger – Help us stop more ESA horror


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